Bandsaws are very useful tools. They can cut curves and contours. And they can slice lumber into thinner stock than you can easily find at a lumber yard (that process is called “resawing”). As far a woodworking goes my Festool circular saw and Festool Multi Function Table make short work of most ripping and cross cutting that I need to do. But I can’t resaw, and I can’t cut curves.
They aren’t even really that expensive. A good midrange woodworking band saw can be had for just under $1000. That gets you the ability to cut about 14 inches wide, and you can resaw up to about a 10 inch tall plank.
Unfortunately, that thousand dollar saw is really only suitable for wood. They typically run the saw blade at about 3300 feet per minute. Great for wood, but it would melt any plastics or acrylics, and strip the teeth off before it would cut anything metallic. Of course, plastics, metals and woods are all metrial I want to be able to manipulate. So what to do?
There are combination machines out there, but they are several thousand dollars and mostly want 3 phase power. Both are out of my reach.
Band saws are pretty simple devices. Two wheels with a continuous loop of saw blade running around. What’s could be so hard? Well I am going to find out. Here are the requirements for the machine:
- Blade speeds from 60FPM to 3300. Need speeds close to 60, 300, 1800 and 3300. Speed adjustment need not be continuous nor easy! That should make it a bit less expensive.
- Greater than 1.5HP. Most 14″ bandsaws are 1.5-2HP, and I will certainly have more transmission losses than them.
- Single phase 220V power. I have this available in my garage.
- Greater than 10″ resaw capacity.
- At least 14″ throat.
- Tilting table.
- Use standard length saw blades, 93.5, 105, 111, 133 inches. I can find these at any decent shop.
- Materials < $1000. Hopefully significantly less.
Those are all the major things I can think of to guide the design.